Blog by Steve Laug
I have been on a restemming binge for the last week or so. I have a box of stummels (bowls) here that I periodically go through and see if I have a potential stem that would fit them. Yesterday when I finished the restoration and restem on the Viking Brandy, I went through the box and picked out three bowls and found workable stems for them. All were in different states of need but all had been thoroughly cleaned before I boxed them up. The first of those that I chose to restem and restore is a lovely Malaga Second Long Shank Billiard stummel. If you have followed me for long you will know that I have worked on a lot of Malaga pipes in the past so I am not a stranger to the brand. This particular bowl is actually quite beautiful and for the life of me I have no idea why is stamped a Second.
The bowl looked very good. The grain around the sides was quite nice and a mix of cross grain and birdseye grain. The rim top had light damage to the inner edge and some nicks of flaws in the outer edge. The rim top had been beat about a bit and showed the wear and damage and there was darkening around the top and edges. The interior of the bowl was clean and there was some light checking on the walls. Examining the mortise it was clean and well drilled with no issues. The finish was washed out and bit and tired but still quite redeemable. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the left side it read MALAGA [over] Second. I took some photos of the bowl before I started to work on it. I took a photo of the stamping on the side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.I went through some of stems and found this shorter taper stem that needed some work on the tenon and diameter at the shank but it was exactly what I wanted. It has a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button but it would clean up well. I have worked on quite a few Malaga pipes and blogged their restorations, so rather than repeat previous blogs, I am including the link to one that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA from a catalogue. It gives a sense of the brand and the history in their own words. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker – https://rebornpipes.com/2013/02/09/george-khoubesser-and-malaga-pipes/.
Now it was time to work on the stem and fit it to the shank of the pipe. The diameter of the tenon was close. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to bring it close to a fit and then used two files that I have here that work well for me to do the fine tuning of the fit.I used a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the file marks on the tenon and make sure it was round. It is an interesting stem in that it has a tube in the tenon for making it “unbreakable”. I fit it on the pipe and took photos of the fit at this point. The fit against the shank was perfect. There were spots where the stem diameter and the shank diameter did not match. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the transition between the two so it was smooth.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the remainder of the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with a Bic lighter flame to raise the tooth marks. I was able to lift some of them to the surface. I filled in what remained with clear CA glue. Once it cured I flattened the repairs and reshaped the button with a small flat file. I then repaired areas 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the rest of the surrounding vulcanite. I finished this part of the process by starting the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I started with the rim top issues. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner and the outer edge of the rim. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out and minimize the damage on the rim top. The top and edges looked much better at this point in the process. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. It really began to shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my finger tips. The product is amazing and works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 or more minutes and then buff it off with a soft cloth. It really makes the grain sing. Before I finished the buffing on the pipe I wanted to address the checking on the inside of the bowl. I noticed it while I was taking the photos. Sometimes it is part of the cake and sometimes not. This time I was able to clean out the majority of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and then sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. There is still some shallow checking on the front of the bowl toward the top and a little on the backside but it is far better and should be good for many years. I cleaned out the bowl, shank and stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners to remove the sanding and scraping debris.I put the pipe back together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored Malaga Second Long Shank Billiard is a real beauty and the chosen stem works well with it. I have no idea why it would be marked a second other than the pits on the rim top. The grain on the bowl is quite beautiful came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The Malaga Second Billiard feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar and the polished vulcanite stem is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.98 ounces/56 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the American (US) Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.